The reason why we spent only four days in Lisbon was Sintra. But let me tell you from the start, one day in Sintra isn’t nearly enough to see all of its wonders. It’s doable but you will have to compromise. So we chose to visit Monserrate Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. It was with a heavy heart that I left the explosion of colors that is the National Palace of Pena for a future visit. But I guess that’s just another reason to return to Sintra!

colorful houses in sintra

In general, Sintra is known as the perfect day trip from Lisbon. Back in the 15th century, the Portuguese nobility started moving from the city. Slightly hilly, Sintra provided the cooler climate that they needed during summers in Lisbon. This resulted in a number of magnificent palaces built around Sintra. The train ride from Lisbon might last only 40 minutes but it’ll feel like you traveled much farther.

moorish fountain in sintra

The landscapes and vegetation alone look like someone transported you to the Azores or Madeira. The exotic flowers and unique trees are breathtaking. Meanwhile, the hills hide stunning residences straight out of dreams. Once in Sintra, you enter a fairytale world.

The Sintra National Palace is the only one situated inside the city center. All the other palaces are scattered over the hills. We didn’t have enough time to see its interiors so I’ll definitely be back to visit the National Palace!

national palace of sintra

The city itself is dreamy, with colorful houses and a unique building here and there. Recalling the Romanticism of the palaces, certain structures are equally impressive. So don’t forget to walk up and down its many narrow streets. There are so many lovely sights waiting for you!

Naturally, the city center of Sintra will be crowded, no matter when you visit. We were there in mid-March and even that felt a bit packed. However, you should still venture out into the heart of the city, if not for what I’m about to mention!

The famous pastries

Our very first in Sintra was Padaria Saloia, a bakery close to the train station. We didn’t venture out too far because we were waiting for the bus to Monserrate Palace. Ultimately, I was glad we didn’t because I found the best lemon pastry ever in this bakery. But let me start from the beginning and say that Sintra is famous for two specific pastries, travesseiro and queijada. And it was the latter one that I tried in this bakery. That freshly baked lemon quiejada was one of the most delicious pastries I ever tried in my life. The zestiness was just right, the texture was divine, and the entire cupcake was perfect.

In all honesty, it was a good thing that we were passing by it again because that lemon quiejada basically haunted me for the rest of the day. Speaking of Sintra’s famous pastries, we made sure to try the supposedly best quiejada in town, at Aurora Queijadas de Sintra. All in all, you can find some amazing local pastries in Sintra!

Day trip from Sintra – Cabo da Roca

After exploring the palaces, we ended the day at the westernmost point of Europe. Cabo da Roca marks that point and it took us 50 minutes on a bus to get there. But we arrived just in time for sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. The wild waves were crashing against the cliffs under our feet and it was utterly hypnotizing. Coupled with a red lighthouse, the entire scene is picturesque.

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth visiting Cabo da Roca, don’t even doubt it. The landscapes are nothing short of magnificent and it’s a lovely spot to end the day in. We ran all around the cliffs, looking for different points of view. I could easily picture staying here longer and exploring the nearby beaches. You can choose to hike, swim in the awfully cold ocean, or simply marvel at the view.

Getting to Cabo da Roca requires one bus ride. 50 minutes long on a winding road, it’s your best and most affordable option. Two different bus routes will lead you there. One runs every 30 minutes while the other one is scheduled every hour. All in all, very easy to catch and you have nothing to worry about. The buses have many stops but only stop when someone headed to the same place boards onto them. If you’re visiting during sunset, bear in mind that the buses can get a bit crowded on the way back after the sun has set!

cabo da roca sintra day trip

All things considered, Sintra was the most magical day trip from Lisbon. It exceeded my already high expectations and bewitched me. With its hilltop castles, lush gardens, and magnificent palaces, it etched itself into my memory forever. One day was much too short and I am in dire need of revisiting it. Until next time, I’ll be daydreaming of Sintra and its magical corners!

cute blue house in sintra
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